Undeniably, workforce safety in Field Service environments is critical to good and effective operations. Yet, too often the activities and disciplines that have the greatest impact are an afterthought. Of course it is more urgent to attend to customer or plant issues when those arise. So we need to ensure those are covered while still having a proper focus on the health and safety of the workforce.
Safety meetings are scheduled months out, but are they truly productive? One operator found a 50% reduction in reportable incidents by providing an online interactive safety course to staff as a self-service aid during downtime as well as during scheduled safety meetings.
Operators’ ability to manage inventory has come a long way from clipboards and spreadsheets to scanners and barcodes. And with the rise of Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence as well as barcodes, and RFID tags and their associated scanners the future looks really… automated.
There is a gap though, and today many companies are leaking bottom line revenue through the frustrating but steady “disappearing act” of small but expensive, hard to track, parts and equipment used in field service operations. Scanners and tags are expensive and don’t always work well getting items into the warehouse (think pallets loaded with lots of inventory). And in other cases barcodes are difficult to locate and read. As a result, it is very easy to lose control of small field service inventory items once they get to the truck.
This is especially true if technicians aren’t provided tools – or the expectation – to regularly record parts and equipment used during installation and repair activities. Ten-cent connectors may not justify a lot of effort to inventory and serialized inventory such as $500 set top boxes are documented upon receipt and when activated. But what about the rest of the truck inventory? How do you manage, account for, and reduce unnecessary expense for non-serialized truck parts and equipment inventory?
With the increased complexity in communications service delivery, there are plenty of bottom-line reasons in trucks, warehouses, and storerooms to explore ways to improve operational approaches to inventory management reduce the loss of small parts and equipment that mount up to a big expense.
opXL makes it easy to get end-to-end inventory management right, whether that means barcodes, RFID tags, associated readers and scanners, or a smartphone app. That means you CAN inventory parts and equipment - via several methods - in every truck, every day, in under 5 minutes.
As I meet with various companies, I get the opportunity to talk to supervisors. Tech ops, customer care, NOC supervisors all have something in common. They were the best Tech, Care Agent, NOC specialist, and so they got the promotion to supervisor. When that occurs an insidious problem occurs: The company has one less good tech or rep, and one more bad supervisor! Why? Managing people isn't the same as managing "widgets." I ask supervisors if they can tell me what's on page 17 of their supervisor manual and they look wild eyed and ask where they can find the manual! Invariably, many rise to the occasion to cover the bases, but the learning curve can be long and tedious.
It's possible that many companies suffering from customer service issues (external AND internal customers), do so as a direct result of supervisors who don't really know their role. Customer experience suffers when supervisors aren't equipped to lead their teams to be successful and instead manage by statistics. And unfortunately, the company over time (with the advent of big data) has inadvertently created that culture...
More to come, but in the meantime, consider what the investment in improving the supervisor's world would do for the customer experience. If the number one goal of a supervisor is to "get work done through others," then shouldn't that supervisor be armed with the skills of coaching and mentoring?